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Refugees, not migrants

EDITOR: The suffering children massing at our borders are refugees. They have suffered (or feared) persecution, and they are fleeing war. According to Wikipedia, war is “generally characterized by extreme violence, social disruption and economic destruction.”

The refugees coming across our southern border are not immigrants. An immigrant is one who chooses to migrate. Central American refugees are fleeing violence, social and economic destruction. Here in the homeland, citizens are propagandized to see suffering children as threats to our wealth.

What an awful, frightened people we’ve become. When poor countries throughout the Middle East have given refuge to millions fleeing from wars we’ve instigated, in this rich land we can’t even give hungry children a place to rest.

ROLAND WIEBE

Graton

Comb’s budget logic

EDITOR: Wow, what good fortune Santa Rosans have to have such a sensible, down-to-earth councilwoman: Julie Combs. Her Close to Home column in the July 5 paper (“An unbalanced city budget serves no one”) is just so deeply basically logical, it’s embarrassing that there are City Council members who disagree. Bottom line: She says no to allocating our city’s money that we haven’t got and have no plans to get. Duh.

NYLA BLAIR

Santa Rosa

Disproportionate force

EDITOR: Israel’s suggestion the people in Gaza had been warned and should leave areas Israel was targeting (“In Gaza Strip, havens few for Palestinians,” July 21) is missing the point. As the article points out, there are few places people are safe as hospitals and shelters have been bombed before, and Israel controls the borders.

The disproportionate use of force by Israel is like previous attacks. There is lip service to negotiations as Israeli settlers continue to occupy more land and a wall continues to divide Palestinian towns and take more land and water for Israel.

There is no military solution to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Yes, Israelis have the right to live free from fear of bombings, but so do Palestinians. To reach that place there needs to be honest negotiation. The borders need to be opened and promised land needs to be returned to Palestine.

I call on the U.S. to suspend aid to Israel while it continues to break international law with the occupation of Palestine.

HEIDI FANTACONE

Sebastopol

County garbage rates

EDITOR: Amy Norris (“For the birds,” Letters, July 21) expressed her dismay concerning the proposed expanded dead animal pickup and street sweeping programs contemplated by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

The expanded programs will cost $275,115 for fiscal year 2014-15, and these services will be paid for by increases in garbage rates. How did the board circumvent Proposition 218 concerning increases to a property-related fee? Garbage rates are a property-related fee, as are rates for water and sewer.

The increase was accommodated by an amendment to the agreement with the franchised refuse collector along with an arbitrary 1 percent increase in the franchise fee. Was a Proposition 218 notice mailed to the affected property owners? Where was the required public hearing? Why should garbage rates finance the county’s permit for runoff from county roads? Are the only ones who are benefited by the “best method of practice” of street sweeping are refuse ratepayers?

Norris and other individuals of like minds may wish to explore the required Proposition 218 process.

RICK KENNEDY

Santa Rosa

Catholic bishops

EDITOR: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, of which Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa is an active member, has proclaimed its intention to demand a religious liberty exemption from President Barack Obama’s directive to end LGBT discrimination.

Think about this. The leaders of the largest Christian denomination have stated their ambition to discriminate against a group of citizens -- our friends and family members who may be LGBT, and they want the government to allow them to do it. How can this position possibly be explained to the faithful, and make sense?

Once again, we have a brand of ugliness imposed upon us by the bishops of the Catholic Church. However, we the faithful, together with our very good and dedicated priests, will find the way to endure another bishop created mess.

TIMOTHY and CATHERINE PARSONS

Santa Rosa

Fair security

EDITOR: Isn’t it a shame that the Sonoma County Fair administrators have to pay $133,000 for additional security at the fair (“Patrol efforts on gangs beefed up at fair,” Friday)? This is to prevent potential fights between half-wit norteño and sureño gang members. Heaven forbid that we should expect people to come to the fair, behave themselves and have a good time. How unfortunate that all the good people of all races and backgrounds have to look over their shoulders to make sure they don’t befall any trouble from these fools.

It is a main reason why my family goes to the fair on senior days — no hassle seen or expected from the older folks. Also, no heavy lines at the rides or food vendors. Hmmm, maybe the “gangstas” are performing a service.

RENITA GUTIERREZ

Petaluma

Living with drought

EDITOR: Going to the Los Angeles basin this past weekend, we saw more green lawns than here in Sonoma County, where having a dead lawn is a sign of pride. While taking a short walk, my sister and I saw water running in the gutters from over-watering. In the Central Valley along the Interstate 5 corridor, we witnessed dead and dying orchard trees as well as fields that should be growing produce for our country left fallow due to lack of water. Why do Northern Californians appear to be more drought conscience than our southern neighbors?

FLORA HALUZAK

Santa Rosa